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Addendum: Without Comparison Shopping Excessive Dental Charges May Catch Seniors Off Guard

In my last blog post, I talked about my client who is an 86 year old woman and is currently experiencing some issues with her teeth. Here is a summary of the story, some details that I didn’t share in the last blog, and how it ended.

As her Power Of Attorney For Health Care and senior living advisor, I had eagerly arranged for her to see the dentist who visited the assisted living memory care community where she resides. The upper denture had fallen out of her mouth. The nurse at the facility told me that it was a problem that needed to be addressed by a dentist.

After I arranged a visit with the dentist who serviced the facility, I was told by him that the remaining teeth in my client’s upper gums were all infected. The infection could spread to other parts of her body. When he discussed his treatment plan, I perceived them to be extremely complex. He wanted to extract 9 of her upper teeth (himself), conduct 9 house calls, complete two cleanings, and build a new upper denture. When I reviewed the pre-treatment plan he sent me, I was mortified when I saw the bottom line price was $7,800.
When I heard that her teeth were infected, I got in the car and drove over to the assisted living community to assess her condition. She was happy to see me and appeared to have no discomfort. She looked well fed. When I asked her if she was having trouble eating, she told me, “no.” The staff confirmed that she had no issues with eating.

After contacting my own dentist and receiving a pre-treatment that was one-half the cost of the assisted living community’s dentist, I arranged to have my client transported to my own dentist. I was concerned because my client has memory issues and I was afraid the trip to the new dentist and seeing unfamiliar faces would upset her. The ride in the Medicar went very smoothly and she sat very patiently in my dentist’s chair.

Upon examining her teeth, he announced that he found no infection in her mouth. He also told me that nine extractions would be too hard for her to survive without extreme pain. Some elderly patients cannot withstand these sorts of procedures at all. If the extractions were to take place, they would have to be performed in a hospital type setting. The extractions would need to be performed by an oral surgeon. He would never consider extracting the teeth himself. The other dentist had planned to perform the extractions himself. My dentist pointed out to me that besides taking a set of x-rays (to insure there was no infection under the surface of her gums), all my client needed was a good cleaning. I pointed out that the other dentist said he had completed a cleaning of the top teeth. He had also billed my client for the procedure. My dentist said her teeth were covered with build up.

What was my dentist’s total cost for the exam, x-rays, and cleanings? It was less than $500 versus the $7,800 the community’s dentist wanted to charge.

For all your senior living options, please contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors